Women’s XC blazes to first at Little Three meet

Women’s cross country has a history of victory at the Little Three meet, with 27 overall titles and a six-year winning streak, but the meet last Saturday at Wesleyan called for special celebration. Williams swept the meet, claiming the first 11 places, earning the women a perfect score of 15 points ahead of Amherst with 54 points and Wesleyan with 79 points. In addition to capturing the Little Three crown, the women took home first at the James Earley Invitational at Westfield State on Oct. 12.

A formidable pack of Ephs masterfully navigated a deceptively challenging course. The race began through an open field with uneven footing, continued onto a trail in the woods and ended with an exceedingly steep hill half a mile from the finish. The women started out at a controlled pace then used pack running and teamwork to move up over the 5k race and dominate the meet.

“I’m always delighted to see groups of people working together and challenging other teams,” Assistant Coach Chris Hoey said. “I think that was particularly evident today because of the smaller race.”

Kaleigh Kenny ’14, an All-American, led the team with a time of 18:32.2. Next in was Shayna Barbash ’14 in 18:42.5, then Molly Belk ’16 18:49.6. Hannah Cole ’17 and Lacey Serletti ’16 rounded out the top five finishers for Williams’ perfect score with times of 18:53.8 and 18:54.7, respectively. Next across the line were Alison Smith ’15 in 19:00.6 and co-captain Brianne Mirecki ’14 in a time of 19:07.0. Following them were  Meg Richardson ’16, who ran a 19:09.8, Talia Calnek-Sugin ’15 in 19:11.5 and Emma Zehner ’17 with a time of 19:12.0. Co-captain Louisa Lee ’14 ran a 19:15.4 and out-kicked the first Amherst finisher, Cat Lowdon for Williams’ historic sweep of the top 11 spots.

“We’re not sure if we’ve ever had the top 10 runners at the Little Three meet, so that’s pretty special,” Assistant Coach Lance Harden said. “We’re overwhelmed with how well the entire group moved up during the race … It was a banner day for Williams women’s cross country.”

The Ephs continued a victorious trend set last week at the James Earley Invitational in Westfield, Mass. Many of the women’s top runners did not compete in this meet, so the decisive win speaks to the team’s incredible depth. The women finished with a score of 46 points, well ahead of second-place Southern New Hampshire, who had 116 points. First across the line for the Ephs was Belk, who finished in 18:33, a time that earned her second place overall.

The women now look ahead to the Plansky Invitational, a meet at the women’s home course this Saturday, which will be the final race of the season for some runners. Others will continue on to the NESCAC meet the following weekend at Conn. College and then to ECACs on Nov. 9 in Bristol, R.I.